In these times when readers are responding to our books “more than ever,” when our authors—including Richard Blanco, Imani Perry, Robin DiAngelo, Dina Gilio-Whitaker, and Bettina Love—are appearing in the media, their ideas going viral on social media, their voices being heard on so many platforms, we thought it might be good to take a break to focus on some of the staff who work hard to find, shape, edit, produce, and promote those works. Our blog series “Beacon Behind the Books” introduces to you a member of our staff and gives you a behind-the-scenes look, department by department, at what goes on at our office. And not only our staff, but our interns, too!
This week, we introduce you to our marketing intern, Evan Kuh!
How did you find your way to Beacon, Evan?
While reading The Condemnation of Little B by Elaine Brown for a class, I saw that Beacon had published it and remembered a friend telling me about the organization and her great experience interning there. The Condemnation of Little B is one of the best and one of the most unorthodox books I have ever read. It combines memoir, investigative journalism, and history into a cohesive and rousing book, detailing the societal and historical events leading up to the arrest and incarceration of Michael Lewis. I knew that any publisher willing to publish such an unusual book with such pointed critiques of typically deified historical figures was exactly the type of publisher I wanted to work for. I sent in my application, and here I am!
What is your favorite part of your job?
I have really enjoyed designing postcards and other marketing materials (it helps that all of our books have amazing covers, so designing collateral for them is very easy!). I’ve never really used InDesign or Photoshop before, so it has been quite fun to learn how to use them. I’ve even decided to take a course on graphic design next semester!
In an alternate universe, what career would you have?
I often feel like I am actually in the alternate universe, because I had never imagined that I would pursue publishing. While I developed an interest in publishing in high school, it was a fantastical idea for me at the time, because I was a hazardously slow reader. It would take me around three hours to finish and annotate a thirty-something-page reading.
I started off college thinking I would go into environmental science, but after accidentally taking a geology course (it was called introduction to the dynamic earth, so not 100% my fault), I developed an interest in rocks (it sounds exhilarating, I know). I enjoy hiking, so I toyed with the idea of becoming a hydrogeologist, someone whose job is essentially to hike for a living and check the health of the groundwater along the way, but as I learned more about the field, the idea seemed less and less possible. Jobs for fossil-fuel companies make up a large portion of the available work for geologists, and because my first semester coincided with the election of Trump and, thus, the shrinking of the EPA, I decided to take some other courses to see if I had other interests.
I decided to take computer science, because it’s all the rage with the kids these days, and, to my surprise, I found myself enjoying it. While introductory courses in other STEM fields are often formulaic and memorization based, computer science is very sandbox-esque, allowing you to design and build your own solutions to the given problem. I started playing with the idea of working in tech, and I stumbled on some tech companies that help other companies and buildings model for more efficient energy consumption, so working for one of those companies was my end goal for a period.
Finally, in the second semester of my sophomore year, I took a course on literature from colonized countries, because I missed my high school English classes and needed to fulfill my university’s non-western civilization requirement. A couple of books into the class, I had to start forcing myself to finish my other work before I started the readings, because I would just sit and read for hours and hours otherwise. It eventually dawned on me that I could essentially just read for my major and, later, I came to a similar conclusion about my career if I pursued publishing.
What are you reading right now?
Unfortunately, I’m not currently reading anything purely for pleasure, but I am reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley for a class on the intersection of early science and literature, Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy for a class on American fiction, and The Divine Comedy and De vulgari eloquentia by Dante Alighieri for an Italian class on the formation of the Italian language.
What are your five star books on Goodreads?
(From most to least favourite)
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- No Telephone to Heaven by Michelle Cliff
- Crick Crack, Monkey by Merle Hodge
- A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid
- Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer
- Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- The Condemnation of Little B by Elaine Brown
Why did you spell “favorite” wrong in the last question?
I was born in the US, but before I was one years old, my family moved to London. I lived there until I was about nine and a half, and then we moved to Hong Kong. After one year, we returned back to the US, where I have lived ever since. My high school and middle school friends (lovingly) bullied and teased my British vocabulary out of me, but I’ve given up on rewiring my brain to spell things according to American English.